While BS7671:2008 (as amended) or 17th edition of the wiring regulations, is not mandatory, it’s the standard used at law should the unfortunate happen. It’s also worth noting that BS7671:2008 (as amended) is subservient to health and safety laws. In other words, “heath and safety” and “electricity at work” are referenced first, to see if an action, or absence of action was legal. Tenancy agreements can be verbal and leave a tenant in some doubt as to what their rights might be. But it is our experience that a contract will generally prohibit a tenant from altering the electrical installation; certainly not without consulting the landlord or their agent first.
In order to demonstrate that they have correctly discharged their duty-of-care obligations, a landlord will have had a PIR or ICR carried out. Preferably by a competent person, at each change of tenancy and as an absolute minimum, every five years. The point of this is to detect any defects in the installation and to generally spot any gradual breakdown in the wiring systems. Any sensible landlord will be able to furnish a tenant with a recent report detailing all relevant aspects of an installation as defined by BS7671:2008. This is a legal document and performs two functions. If faithfully carried out, it is an assurance to tenants that their electrical installation is safe, but it is also a landlord’s defence against any legal action arising out of a claim of negligence.
It is not uncommon to visit rented properties that appear never to have been tested and are not compliant with any version of the past or present regulations. No reasonable landlord should refuse a request for provision of a current test certificate. We also see extensive (sometimes dangerous) tampering with the fixed electrical installation to many different kinds of properties, where tenants install their own DIY electrics. There is nothing wrong with anyone doing their own electrics as long as: 1. They have sought and gained permission from the relevant authority. 2. They have complied with BS7671:2008 and, where necessary Part P of the building regulations. If both of the above cannot be satisfied, do not touch your electrics or permit anyone else to do so. It is a safety and legal minefield! Please use this link for more information http://www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/guides-and-advice/for-tenants/
Disclaimer: We are electricians, not lawyers! The above has been provided in good faith, but always seek legal advice where the need arises.